Friday, May 16, 2008

When Life Imitates Art...

Chester Himes' A Rage In Harlem begins with the lead character, Jackson, getting duped by a couple of scam artists. The grifters promise Jackson that they can double dectuple the value of his cash by wrapping it in 'specially treated chemical paper,' and then heating it up in the stove. When the novel was originally published in 1957, this scam -- and variations of it -- were already the stuff of urban legend. Maybe if more folks read Himes' crime fiction, scams like the following wouldn't still be happening today.

Man Loses Money Trying to Double It by Marinading
BEIJING, May 12 (Xinhuanet) -- A Vietnamese man in Norway who believed that mixing cash with a special liquid could double its value suffered in fact a loss of 35,000 U.S. dollars, according to media reports Monday. This unidentified man was told by a 32-year-old Frenchman that if he mixed the real cash with blank bills and then marinate them in a special liquid for one night, he would have double the amount of the cash. The gullible Vietnamese believed the Frenchman's story and gave him 180,000 kroner (35, 000 U.S. dollars). But when he prepared to collect his money the next morning, both the cash and the Frenchman disappeared. "He has given a statement that leads us to believe that he really believed this was possible. But we are of course having a hard time understanding how someone could actually believe such a tall tale," police officer Ragnar Ingberg said. Early on March, the Frenchman was arrested while trying to leave Norway. He is set to stand trial in a lower court near Oslo next week. But his lawyer claimed that his client is extremely surprised to be charged with something that was so incredible.